At the end of November, 30-Nov to be exact, I rekindled my interest in shotguns. It was the realization that a 12 ga shotgun could deliver far more firepower on a threat than a carbine or handgun. In the summer of 1999 with the ominous approach of Y2K, I decided to get a shotgun and take Gunsite's 5 day tactical shotgun course. That was my first experience with a tactical shotgun, oh I had shot one before some, but never really ran it like I learned to in that 5 days.
Somehow over the years, I lost my interest in the shotgun as a SD/SHTF weapon, the latter of which was the very reason I bought it. I suppose I became attracted to the AR platform as so many have. Anyway I suddenly realized I could put more hits on a threat with a shotgun than I could with any other gun. My SD/SHTF weapon once again became the 12 gauge tactical shotgun.
The 12 ga. shotgun, nearly a 3/4" caliber (0.727" to be exact), can put nine 9mm (.33 caliber actually) shots on a threat with one trigger pull! Even with reduced recoil loads, those 9mm size pellets are traveling at 1145 fps for Federal and Winchester (9, 00 pellets) and 1200 fps for Remington managed recoil (8, 00 pellets).
Even the cheaper stuff is impressive: Royal Buck Low Recoil runs 9, 00 pellets at 1200 fps.
At 7 yds, basically across a room, any of these loads will put 9, 00 pellets into a fist size group. In the following pics, there is a big hole or tear, that's from the wadding. The real shot is the pellet holes; the wadding holes makes it a little bit harder to see:
and my favorite,
One interesting thing I've discovered is the pattern different manufacturers strive for and the lengths they go to to get tighter groups at longer distances. What makes that interesting is that the cheaper 00s actually spread better at closer ranges. But that's one of the beautiful things about the tactical shotgun - you can choose ammo to meet a lot of circumstances.
Some prefer #4 buckshot (not #4 birdshot, they're different). I haven't shot any #4 yet and can't offer an opinion, but again, the beauty of the tactical shotgun, there's a ammo size, etc. for just about any need and/or preference.
The ability of a shotgun to put nine 9mm sized pellets (or in the case of #4 buck, a whopping 41, 0.24" caliber pellets) on a threat with one trigger pull is no small thing. Think about how long it would take to get 9 hits out of a pistol or carbine that tight.
The shotgun doesn't have the range of a rifle, but slugs are good to 75 - 100 yds and that seems more than adequate for SD and SHTF situations. And as you'll see later, given the simplicity of a shotgun, you can buy a rifled barrel and pop it on in as little as 5 minutes with no tools! The rifled barrel gives even more accuracy and range capability.
For hunting for food in a SHTF situation, nothing is more versatile than a 12 ga shotgun. You can hit birds on the fly with birdshot, squirrels and rabbits, etc. without destroying the meat, switch to 00 or slugs for deer and even 000 for bear.
A tactical shotgun can hold up to 7 rounds in the mag plus one in the chamber. A sidesaddle like this quick attach/detach Mod 3 from SideArmor can boost the 'on board' capacity to 14. The M4 shown here does not yet have the 7 shot capacity tube, hmmm, I might ought to get that pretty quickly.
Shown in the two following pics, the shells in the side saddle are set up in a popular fighting orientation with two shells bottoms up for combat loading, followed by two down for speed loading, followed by two slugs bottoms up for changeovers.
Or you can quickly detach the 6 rounder and replace it with an 8 rounder. The 8 round capacity allows for two combat reloads, four speed reloads, and two slug changeovers for a total on board count of 16.
Or, if you want to go 'light', you can easily remove the shell holder quickly with no tools.
The side saddle is quite significant. Some may plan on 'on body' ammo instead of 'on board', but too many times, time and opportunity won't lend itself to more than grabbing the shotgun and moving. You may not have time to put on belts, speed loaders, shell caddies etc.
It is the ability of the shotgun to deliver devastating firepower quickly, it's versatility, and compactness that makes it so effective for PD and SHTF situations. We've already talked about the firepower so let's move to versatility.
We alluded to versatility a bit already regarding small and large game hunting, but there's much more. You can get loads from 2-3/4 and 3" to tailor a load for a specific purpose. E.g. turkey and duck/geese require more power to reach longer ranges. You can get reduced recoil, more than adequate for SD, and standard power for more energy and velocity. Plus, you can even get rubber pellets; they are readily available from online sources.
A tactical shotgun is compact. Not quite as much as a carbine because of the 18" barrel requirement for shotguns. Nonetheless, it is a lot of firepower in a compact package.
There's the plethora of sights available, from night sights to red dots, to all out scopes. You can buy a shotgun with an 18" barrel and buy a longer barrel for hunting. Mossberg is running a special right now on a shotgun with two barrels. One is a rifled barrel and the other is a turkey barrel. I think it's going for something like $479.
You can buy a smooth bore and get a rifled barrel for more accuracy and longer ranges. And changing a barrel on a shotgun is easy, requires no tools, and takes about 5 minutes at the most.
Then there are the stocks and handguards - conventional stocks, synthetic, camos, pistol grip stocks and handguards, railed handguards, handguards with built-in Surefire tactical lights like this Remington tactical 870, although it's more Wilson Combat now than Remington.
A closer look at the Surefire forend with the tactical light:
Even more versatility - you can buy an 'entry' level shotgun cheaply and start learning to use it. As time, opportunity, and funds permit, you can add whatever gear/accessories you want until you have a custom shotgun uniquely yours.
And, shotguns are stupid simple to disassemble, even down to removing the trigger group. Not that we have to be stupid to disassemble them - they're just easy. But all is not easy.
The shotgun may be the most complex gun to operate that there is. Anyone can load a shotgun and shoot it empty, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about running a shotgun proficiently and effectively.
A common saying in shotgun training is, "If you aren't shooting, you should be loading." That's where training and work with the shotgun is important, especially if you are planning to fight with it. A shotgun may be a low capacity gun, maybe only 4-5 rounds unless you've added an extension tube. Even if you have rounds in a side saddle, or belt caddy, you need to know how to keep the shotgun 'fed'.
Some of the loading, etc. can be complicated, require a degree of manual dexterity, and mental acuity. E.g. if you realize your threat is out of buckshot range or that the distance is enough that some of the pellets may not hit the threat, or you just need a more precise shot, then you need to know how to do a slug changeover from the way you set up your shotgun. That procedure varies if your carry or short term storage is with a round chambered or not. E.g. do you want to carry a shotgun in a car with a round chambered? That's your call, but however you do it, chambered or not, you have to know how to make the shotgun do what you need it to do from your starting point.
So that's my shotgun story. You'll probably notice my signature has changed to reflect the shotgun.
This is too long isn't it